Skeleton Lake News

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  • 21 Jan 2021 8:00 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

     Original Letter - SLCO Letter of Objection to Proposed Bell Tower W7716 - Jan 20 Final.pdf

                    January 20th, 2021.

    To:          Matthew Milligan, Senior Advisor, Real Estate and Government Relations, Bell Mobility.


    CC:          Mr. Adam Fulford / Ms. Maria Wood,  Canacre Ltd. (Agents for Bell Canada)

                    Robert Malcolmson,  Chief Regulatory Officer, BCE Inc.

                    David Pink,  Director of Planning, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                    Susan Mazan,  Ward B Councilor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                    Gordon Roberts,  Ward B Councilor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                    Phil Harding,  Mayor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                

    RE:       Letter of Objection to Proposed Bell Tower ‘W7716, Skeleton Lake North’ at 4300 Aspdin Rd., Township of Muskoka Lakes

    Dear Matthew,

    Thank you for extending the Public Consultation period and for meeting with our executives to discuss this proposal in some depth.

    As conveyed to Canacre and yourself, the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization (SLCO) represents the interests of a majority of approximately 500 cottagers and other residents of Skeleton Lake watershed.

    While the SLCO appreciates that Bell Mobility is proposing to improve local mobile cellular LTE voice & data service and fixed wireless broadband service through their proposed tower, the SLCO OPPOSES the 61m free-standing, steel-lattice tower W7716 to be erected at 4300 Aspdin Road because of the significant negative impact to the scenic views on the northwest shore of Skeleton Lake.

    The SLCO has a mandate, supported by the majority of its members and other residents around the Lake, to preserve the physical features and values of Skeleton Lake for generations to come.  Landscapes and scenic views are paramount among those values as defined in our Lake Plan and Stewardship Program.  A 61m, free-standing, steel-lattice tower within such close proximity to the shores of Skeleton Lake, sitting atop a 60m precipice, would forever be an eyesore and diminish the enjoyment of the Lake’s residents.

    The Township of Muskoka Lakes has recently passed a motion adopting Skeleton Lake’s ‘Lake Plan and Stewardship Program’ into the Township’s Official Plan, recognizing the community’s desire and authority to protect, among other features, its scenic views.

    The Township of Muskoka Lakes in their “Interim Policy Communication Tower” also calls for “siting of new communication towers shall consider the … retention of prominent views and vistas”. 

    As well, our members have indicated their preference and need for fixed wireless broadband services as an alternative to expensive mobile cellular data access to the internet, a service already available to most of them.  We note, and as you confirmed, the coverage maps provided by Canacre depict mobile cellular LTE voice & data coverage and NOT fixed wireless broadband coverage.

    Based upon an analysis that SLCO has performed using advanced radio coverage modelling software, we believe that our members can still achieve vastly improved fixed wireless broadband service with a shorter 30m “monopine” tower erected on the same high precipice at 4300 Aspdin Rd.  In the event that a 30m tower is not sufficient to achieve the desired cellular coverage then perhaps two strategically placed 30m towers along the north shore and Aspdin Rd. could provide the desired improved mobile cellular coverage as well as fixed wireless broadband without significantly diminishing scenic views.

    We also note that the construction of this tower is not scheduled until the “building season” of 2022 meaning that improved mobile cellular LTE voice & data service and fixed wireless broadband service is not expected until late in 2022.  Our members would benefit from having improved fixed wireless broadband services now, especially during this pandemic.  This proposal does not meet the immediate needs of the community, yet we are aware that other fixed wireless broadband service operators will, in all likelihood, be able to satisfy much of that demand in the current year.

    We stand resolute in our commitment to vigorously oppose this 61m tower at 4300 Aspdin Road, including at the municipal level.

    It is because of the significant negative impact to the scenic views of the north shore of Skeleton Lake that the SLCO stands opposed to the current proposal for a 61m tower at 4300 Aspdin Road.  The SLCO is willing to work with Bell to develop a mutually agreeable plan which could involve a 30m “monopine” style tower in the same location or two strategically placed 30m towers if that is required.  This type of tower is similar to those that you’ve indicated Bell Mobility is installing in many areas of Muskoka and that Bell is required to use in other scenic areas of Ontario, such as Algonquin Park.  This style and size of tower is more environmentally and aesthetically compatible with the Skeleton Lake community’s desire to protect and preserve the natural character of the Lake and its scenic vistas.

    On behalf of the SLCO Board of Directors,


    Jeff Crocker 

    President

    Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

    www.skeletonlake.ca

  • 06 Dec 2020 2:12 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    (original letter: Letter of Objection - Proposed Bell Cell Tower W7716 Skeleton Lake North.pdf)

    December 6th, 2020

    To:           Mr. Adam Fulford / Ms. Maria Wood,  Canacre Ltd. (Agents for Bell Canada)

    CC:           Mirko Bibic,  President & CEO, BCE and Bell Canada

                     Blaik Kirkby,  Group President, Bell Mobility and Bell Residential & Small Business

                     Rizwan Jamal,  President, Bell Residential and Small Business

                     David Pink,  Director of Planning, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                     Susan Mazan,  Ward B Councilor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                     Gordon Roberts,  Ward B Councilor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                     Phil Harding,  Mayor, Township of Muskoka Lakes

                     Navdeep Bains,  Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

                     Scott Aitchison,  Member of Parliament, Parry Sound- Muskoka

                     Norm Miller,  Member of Provincial Parliament, Parry Sound-Muskoka

                      

    Subject:  Proposed Bell Tower ‘W7716 Skeleton Lake North’ at 4300 Aspdin Rd, Township of Muskoka Lakes

    Dear Mr. Fulford / Ms. Wood,

    I'm writing to you in my capacity as the President of the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization (SLCO).  Our organization represents more than 500 owners of waterfront properties and more than 1000 families in our immediate watershed.  Our mandate is to preserve and protect our very unique and scenic lake and its environs.  We are guided by our Lake Plan and Stewardship Program (the ‘Lake Plan’), a copy of which can be found at our website. (https://skeletonlake.ca/Lake-Plan)

    As you know, members of the SLCO attended Canacre's video question & answer meeting on Nov 19th, 2020 regarding the above proposed tower.  I believe hosting that meeting was a necessity under federal regulations to gain approval for Bell Mobility’s application for a proposed telecommunications tower, dubbed ‘Skeleton Lake North W7716’ (the ‘Tower’).  We only received notice of that meeting on Nov 17th, courtesy of our Ward Councilor in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  We expected a meaningful engagement where concerns would be heard and alternatives considered.  We were disappointed to find that was not the case, that Canacre was simply passing on a cursory and incomplete outline of Bell’s intentions.

    If you refer to page 15 of our Lake Plan you will see a ranking of the values that our community constituents decided are most important to them.  In particular, you will notice that some 97.5% of our community values “Scenic Views” as the second most important “Valued Feature”, behind only Water Quality.

    Your proposal for a 60.8m tower, proposed to be erected within 700m of the shore of our scenic Skeleton Lake on the highest pinnacle known as our famous ‘Tomelin Bluffs’, will tower some 120m (or 393 feet) above Skeleton Lake.

    The placement of a tower this size, in this location, is completely incompatible with our community’s desire to protect scenic views around Skeleton Lake, designated as an extremely high priority by our constituents.

    In addition, we are concerned that Bell may have made a serious omission by overlooking the very important fact that Skeleton Lake has a registered water aerodrome on it.  In your presentation of Nov 19th, you promised that the tower would not require lighting, however we believe Transport Canada may decide otherwise due to this aerodrome.  Dark skies are another highly rated Valued Feature by our community and having a lighted tower will negatively impact this.

    While our community, like many other rural communities, is in dire need of improved internet access, we want solutions that do not completely and utterly compromise the most cherished qualities of our lake community.  Based on the initial due diligence and research by our Board of Directors, we are aware that other alternatives are becoming available.

    We are asking for a delay in the ‘Consultation’ phase of this proposal until such time as we can have meaningful dialogue with the business team from Bell Mobility responsible for this tower proposal and the general network topology in Muskoka, and have our concerns and our needs duly considered.  

    We would also like time to consult our own community for their input.  

    We believe we have grounds to seek this as we were not properly served notice, despite the fact that i) the community shares the lake which is within the 1km notice radius and, ii) the township has been in possession of, and acknowledged, our Lake Plan since 2015 and should have included the SLCO early on in the discussions.  

    In the meantime, we are seeking some additional information including:

    1. When did Bell first notify the township of this application?
    2. What engagement has Bell had with the residents and cottagers of Skeleton Lake and when?
    3. Why was the SLCO not notified at an early stage, knowing the potential impact on scenic values and sight lines in and around our lake?
    4. What is Bell’s expected date to have approval to proceed with this tower?
    5. When does Bell expect to commence construction?
    6. When does Bell expect to commission the tower into operation?
    7. Why can Bell not consider lower and less intrusive ‘mono-pine’ towers for improving our service?  These are common practice in Muskoka.
    8. How many potential subscribers would be eliminated if Bell used a 30m ‘mono-pine’ tower, similar to that proposed for W7723 on the south side of the lake, instead of a free-standing 61m steel lattice tower?
    9. If Bell cannot, is it because this tower also serves to ‘bridge’ Bell’s fibre optic network available along Aspdin Rd to other towers via a microwave or similar point-to-point link?  If so, are these receivers in existence now or planned for the future?
    10. Bell has equipment on multiple towers serving Skeleton Lake already, identified as; W1736, W1463, W3418 and LBHONW0093-1S2.  Only two of these towers, W1463 and LBHONW0093-1S2 currently have the 3500Mhz WTTP radios installed.  What are Bell’s plans to install WTTP radios on the other two towers, W1763 and W3418?  How many more subscribers will be reachable from these? Will installing WTTP radios on these eliminate the need to reach 61m at W7716 Skeleton Lake so that a 30m ‘mono-pine’ tower would suffice?
    11. We are aware that a 3rd-party tower operator that Bell sometimes uses, SBA, is proposing a new tower just 2500m to the west of Bell’s proposed site.  Why can’t Bell lease space on this tower to implement its WTTP service? 
    12. Is Bell willing to make a binding undertaking that tower lighting will NOT be required on W7716 Skeleton North?
    13. At your meeting, we asked for a rendering of the tower from the perspective of the lake.  You said it was not possible.  We have had several created, to scale.  I have attached a few of these for your information and comment.  We intend to use these in discussion with our community.
    14. Can you establish a meeting for us with the appropriate Bell executives and key decision makers on this project?
    15. Finally, can you please provide the SLCO with contact details of the key individuals and business leaders responsible for this project at Bell Mobility and Bell Residential Services.  We wish to engage with them on this proposal.

    We look forward to receiving your answers to these questions to better understand and give our opinion on this proposal.  In addition, we look forward to Canacre Ltd. facilitating a meeting with Bell Mobility.

    In closing, we are not against Bell expanding coverage in our lake community.  We’ve been wanting improved service for more than a decade.  However, we want to engage with Bell in finding a win-win solution inclusive of the community, the municipality and Bell together.  Our community wants better internet connectivity and acknowledges Bell’s movement in that direction.  We just want to find a solution that fits the values and goals of our very unique community.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Crocker

    President - Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

    289-221-7903

    www.skeletonlake.ca 

    cc:            Scott May – Vice President, SLCO

                      Deirdre Broude - Director Lake Stewardship, SLCO

                      Tom Grajnar - Director Lake Partners, SLCO


  • 18 Nov 2020 12:07 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    IMPORTANT NOTICE OF PUBLIC CONSULTATION - Thursday Nov. 19th 5:00 - 7:00 pm (tomorrow)

    Bell Canada Proposal to Erect a 60.8m (200ft) Cell Tower at the North End of Skeleton Lake

    We wish to inform you of a Public Consultation virtual meeting being held by Bell Canada to discuss a proposed cell tower to be erected on Aspdin Road, near the northwest side of the lake, just behind Leander Beach area.

    The invitation brochure can be downloaded here Bell Canada Proposed Cell Tower.PDF

    For more information and to join in this meeting click on this link:  https://www.canacre.com/skeleton-lake-north-w7716

    The SLCO was informed this week of this meeting and we are still gathering information before we make an assessment of this proposal.   Members of the SLCO Board will participate in the meeting.  We encourage all members to do the same.


    Jeff Crocker

    President

    289-221-7903

  • 07 Oct 2020 11:55 AM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    Have Your Say!  TML "Policy Directions Survey" Reminder

    The Township of Muskoka Lakes held a virtual meeting on Sept 26th to review the Policy Directions for the new Official Plan.  It was overwhelmingly attended by Skeleton Lake cottagers, underscoring our concern for protecting the fragile environment in Muskoka and in particular our pristine lake. 

    We want to make sure, once we finally bury Lippa's planned quarry, that there will never again be an opportunity to establish a harmful Pit & Quarry or any other harmful industrial site near our precious lakes.

    So I'm asking you to make sure you take some time this week to complete the survey regarding the Policy Directions that will shape the actual policies in the next Official Plan due to be drafted in early 2021.  The deadline for the survey is this Friday, October 9th.

    Here's what we want the new OP to reflect:

    • Recognition that the effects of a Pit & Quarry FAR exceed the physical footprint of the operation itself.  
    • That NO operations related to quarrying should EVER be located closer than 2km to a waterbody in Muskoka.  That includes, extraction, effluent discharge (de-watering), material hauling, destruction of natural environment and heritage features - not just crushing!
    • Noise from trucks, harmful effects of dust, road safety and the peaceful coexistence of communities must ALL be considered for any Pit & Quarry application near a waterfront area. 
    • Pits & Quarries should be restricted to an area adjacent to the two main arteries leading back to the major markets of southern Ontario, specifically Highways 11 & 400.  This is compliant with the Provincial Policy Statement.  Since granite is found everywhere in Muskoka, there is NO strategic reason to locate Pits & Quarries near sensitive lakes, streams and natural reserves deep in the interior of Muskoka along scenic township roads.  Highways 11 & 400 were designed to avoid communities and sensitive natural areas.

    The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete, and you should review the Policy Directions document as well if you haven't already.  In the survey, make sure to select "Mineral Resource Uses Adjacent to Waterfront Area" in Question 2 and fill in your comments as above in Question 3.  

    You can also choose to comment on other areas that are important to you, the community and our lake such as; Lake System Health, Recreational Carrying Capacity, Watershed Planning and Cumulative Environmental Impacts - all important and all impacted by quarrying.

    You can find the links to the survey here - https://engagemuskokalakes.ca/official-plan-review/survey_tools/proposed-policy-direction-questionnaire

    and the Policy Directions document here - https://engagemuskokalakes.ca/16524/widgets/64937/documents/39418

    Please take a few minutes this week and let our township know we're serious about protecting our lakes in Muskoka!

    Thanks,

    Jeff Crocker

    President, Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

  • 02 Oct 2020 1:32 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)

    Re: News Update from 'The Village Harbour'

    This email is primarily directed to all boat storage, parking & docking customers who have been storing their boats at Troy Cove Marina, now known as The Village Harbour Marina.

    I am pleased to announce that at this time we have professional mechanical staff who have vast experience in the marina business, and are now ready to winterize, wrap and store your boats.

    Unfortunately at this time the marina is closed in terms of selling gas and convenience store. However, should anyone need help, emergency gas or mechanical service we can help, please call us at 416-580-0352.

    For the 2021 season the marina operation, gas bar and store hours will be open 7 days a week during summer season from 9am till 6pm. Also we will be providing professional licensed mechanical service.

    I apologize if this delay has caused you any frustration. I can assure you we are going to make this marina a beautiful place to come visit and do business for well into the future.

    Since I took over this role (2-3 weeks ago), I have been wrestling with a limited database of customers which was left behind by the previous renter.

    I kindly ask that you please contact us with your name, telephone #, email address, boat slip number (photo would work) and a brief description of your craft. This information will vastly help our mechanics organize each craft that is ready for pulling out of the lake.

    Also, could you please tell me when you are ready for us to store your boat. This information will help with logistics so we can plan appropriately.

    Thank you for your patience and your business. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,


    Steve Staley

    tel:   416-580-0352

    email: TheVillageHarbour@gmail.com


  • 16 Aug 2020 10:15 PM | Jeff Crocker (Administrator)


    Water-Access Septic Tank Pump-outs (2nd-call)

    Are you water access?  Have you had your septic tank pumped out in the last 5 years?  Give yourself some peace of mind and get it pumped out this year. Most septic systems should to be pumped out  every 3-5 years. 

    The SLCO is once again organizing a septic pump out for water-access cottagers.  Muskoka Septic Services (MSS) is one of only a few remaining service providers that has a purpose-built barge available for use on Skeleton Lake.  And once again, MSS is offering a special discount to members of the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization.

    MSS plans to be on Skeleton Lake around the 3rd week of September.  You don't need to be at your cottage as long as your tank is accessible and easy to find.  Pricing is as follows:

    Tank Size Reg Price Member Price*
    800 gal $1,130  $1,030 
    1000 gal $1,200  $1,100 
    >1000 gal + add $35 / 100 gal  
    As usual, SLCO members will enjoy a $100 discount*.  
    So if you haven't renewed your membership yet, or you still haven't become a member, visit our website at www.skeletonlake.ca to renew your membership today - it's only $50!
    If you're interested in participating in this season's septic pump-out, please reply to this message or email us at admin@skeletonlake.ca
    The Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

    * based on 10 or more participating

  • 04 Aug 2020 12:14 PM | Tim Lutton (Administrator)
  • 03 Aug 2020 3:45 PM | Tim Lutton (Administrator)

    We know you have some great photos of summer fun at your cottage.  So we are inviting you to join in our photo contest.  Thanks to those that have already submitted their favourite pics.  The theme is 'Life at the Cottage'.  Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 photos and the SLCO Board will determine the winners.  Please submit your photos in their best possible format to photos@skeletonlake.ca.  Winners will be announced during the fall.  Please note that any submitted photos may be used in future SLCO Newsletters.


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